The Importance of Follow Up – Part I

Initiatives // March 1, 2010

Congratulations to St. John’s Lutheran Church in the St. Louis metro area. February marked the end of their 3-year capital giving initiative. They finished the effort by collecting 99.6% of the total amount committed back in March 2007!

Last week I was on-site with a capital campaign client, touring their new facilities while meeting with the pastor to review strategy. With 8 months remaining in their three-year giving phase, the church is running at 105% of projection!

Both churches were conducting their campaigns prior to the economic “collapse” that occurred in 2008. People were not anticipating the economic realities that we have faced for the past 18 months, yet they have fulfilled commitments in spite of the turmoil.

What makes the difference? What causes one church to receive 100% of their pledges while another receives 70%?

Here is the first of three posts that will explore ten considerations to achieving 90% or better in your campaign receipts:

1. How was the campaign “ask” presented during the campaign?

It is not uncommon for results to fall below normal when the “ask” is inappropriate. Stories abound from failed campaigns where pressure and confrontation were employed.

This is especially true where more conventional “fund raising” techniques are used. Those who are pushed to be aggressive with commitment during the pledge time will have a much more difficult time fulfilling pledges. Estimates of giving should only be written after the donor has invested a significant time in prayer.

2. Intentionality in Follow-up

Campaign “follow-up,” which I call Campaign Enhancement (CE), does not naturally occur in the life of the church. It is mandatory that an intentional effort be put in place for the length of the giving phase. This does not happen in the normal course of ministry. A calendar must be created, monitored and followed throughout CE.

3. Ownership

Most church staff do not have margin in their schedule to take on the responsibility of monitoring the CE phase. While one should be assigned responsibility for the area, it is best to have a small team of lay leaders enlisted to monitor the plan. They can be called upon to assist in implementation. This team should be enlisted from the campaign steering committee.

Now is not the time to enlist a new person who has not been involved in the process from the beginning. Your steering committee members are fully vested in the campaign case statement and have taken ownership in the project. They are best suited to implement the CE strategy.

In the next post we’ll review considerations four through six.

Until then…

About Rusty Lewis

As a church leader, there’s nothing more frustrating than not having the funding to do what God’s calling you to do. But when you think about trying to address that problem, you feel overwhelmed, you dread the potential pushback from your congregation, and you’re not sure where to turn for help. Over the last 18 years, I’ve helped more than 120 churches close the gap between their current financial reality and what they need to move forward in ministry.

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